With the 4th of July already weeks behind us and fall looming, summer feels like it’s winding down (of course, in Texas, we know that summer weather won’t truly end until Halloween’s come and gone, unfortunately). But despite the appearance of back-to-school-supplies displays in every Walmart and grocery store, we still have a few more weeks to enjoy summer freedom. One of the greatest things about summer, in my humble opinion, is the opportunity it gives us for travel and adventure.
Trips and vacations have long been fodder for writers everywhere because traveling challenges our worldview, changes our perspective, and always seems to teach us something about ourselves and even how we understand the places we’re returning to. For this week’s writing prompt, write a story about travel. It can be a non-fiction account of your recent family vacation, a short story about a young college graduate’s trek through Europe, or a poem about a retreat to cabin in a sleepy rural town. The specifics are up to you, but the mission is to capture the spirit of travel and the immense capacity it holds to change us.
I will leave you with this quote from Austin-based writer Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like An Artist: “Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder.”
Through The Eyes of The Greats
In honor of the Frida Festival in Houston this weekend, write a short story through the eyes of an iconic artist of the past. For the three pages write in first person, past or present, in the voice of Frida or Hemingway or Monet or Rodin or Plath or any other iconic artist. Try to make their voice honest versus cliche. Let their strong, and enduring spirit guide the story.
If you attend the festival, be sure to take photos and post them on the WLT facebook!
October’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up
Author’s Guide to PR and Marketing: On Your Own, But Not Alone
By Lexie Smith
Marketing your book is like life. Ultimately you’re responsible for how you live your life, but you don’t have to live it alone. Unless you want to, in which case you’ll have a quiet life and even quieter book sales.
You need other people to help market your book, but you don’t need advanced degree in glad-handing. October’s Third Thursday program provided a quick marketing primer from panelists author Ernest Cline, writer and publicist Jennifer Hill Robenalt, author and writers’ resource blog maven Cynthia Leitich Smith, and author Jo Whittemore.
Here’s a quick breakdown of ways you are on your own, yet not alone.
You’re on Your Own
The reality of the publishing industry is that you are responsible for marketing your book. Your time, your money, and your self are investments you must make to promote your writing projects.
- Time to network online and offline with readers, potential readers, librarians, writers, event organizers, etc.
- Time to create content for marketing and networking (social media posts, media packets, etc.)
- Time to learn about the publishing industry
- Money for marketing education—ebooks, books, coaching, classes, conferences, etc.
- Money for website development – At the least you need to buy your domain name (something like YourName.com ) for about $10/year. There are lots of free tools you can use for your website and marketing. (Including blog platforms, Facebook and Twitter.) Eventually, you’ll want to spend some money on the design of your website and hosting for your site.
- Money for a publicist or marketing team—Once you’ve done all you can do, you may want to take your marketing to the next level and hire a professional.
- You bring a unique energy and tone to your work. Only you can bring those same things to your marketing efforts.
- You know your work better than anyone else, therefore, you will have ideas that other people may not. (See the FAQ about the DeLorean Ernie used on his book tour.)
- You are more passionate about your project than anyone else will be.
- It takes time to develop your writing voice, it also takes time to develop your marketing style. Experiment with different things to find out what works for you.
You’re Not Alone
So, you have to spend your time, money, and your self selling your book. Isn’t it enough that you wrote the thing? Not if you want people to buy your book. Thankfully, you have many resources available to help you learn about and execute marketing. Avail yourself to opportunities in person, online, and in print.
- Local writers groups can provide feedback on your projects and moral support. Search online for these groups. (Check the Organizations for Writers page on the WLT site.)
- The Writers League Third Thursday programs in Austin provide loads of information from a variety of panelists and the chance to connect with other writers.
- Classes, workshops, and conferences offer learning and networking opportunities. (Including WLT workshops, like the PR Boot Camp Jennifer Hill Robenalt taught.)
- Join forces with other authors to help promote each other’s books. (For example, Jo Whittemore is a member of the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels at TexasSweethearts.com.)
- At some point you may want to hire an agent and/or a publicist to help you. CynthiaLeitichSmith.com has some good resources to help you with that when you’re ready.
- Search for genre specific writing groups online. Members can help you with all stages of writing, including marketing.
- Educate yourself about marketing by enrolling in an online class. Check WritersOnlineWorkshops.com from Writer’s Digest.
- Subscribe to a few blogs that include book marketing and promotion in their topics such as Jane Friedman , Cynthia Leitich Smith and Dana Lynn Smith.
- Look on websites of authors you like for information about the site (who designed or built it), email them and ask what they did to help them market the book.
- Check your local library or bookstore for books on book marketing.
- Consider books about small business marketing.
- Look at the books you like. Scour the books for any reference to any person or thing that helped them market the book; look in any nook and cranny you can think of in the book: acknowledgements, about the author, book jackets, preface.
The idea of marketing your book may be daunting, but our panelists showed that it can be done and it can even be enjoyable. Stay tuned for November’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up about launching your book. (Subscribe to the WLT blog feed here and sign up for the WLT newsletter here to get updates about upcoming events and other useful information.)
Lexie is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through LexicalLight.com, BloggingForWriters.com and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.
‘What I Want To Be When I Grow Up’
Since Writers’ League of Texas is based out of downtown Austin, we are thinking a lot about the upcoming Formula 1 Race. Traffic, anyone? This made me wonder, how many of our readers wanted to be race car drivers when they were little? Or a fireman, or a veterinarian, or a circus clown? I wanted to be a rockstar. I am just dating one now, does that count?
This week, go back in time to your childhood hopes and aspirations. Write out five different things you wanted to be when you ‘grew up.’ From those five things, chose 1 to live out and 1 to write about. If one of the dreams was to be a professional tap dancer, this week take a dance lesson. Or if one was to the President, this week volunteer at an event happening at the Capital.
Next, the second choice of five is to live it out via a short story, at a very hightened time of your career. If the dream was to be a Marine Biologist, write about discovering a new species of coral. Or if the dream was to be a Disney Princess at DisneyWorld, write about your first day on the job in mid July.
Have a chat with your inner child this week. He/She is way more fun, anyway.
Hope you are all having a great week. We think this quote is an encouraging message for anyone who sits down to write something important and new. Enjoy!
(A writer) must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
— from William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, December 10, 1950